Tibet, unidentified bodhisattvas (3)

11th century, Central Tibet, bodhisattva, at the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This bodhisattva does the gesture to hold flowers (kataka mudra) with both hands. He wears an early Nepalese-style foliate crown and a broad sash across the chest.

12th-13th century, Tibet, bodhisattva, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In the absence of any specific attribute, the lotuses on each side of this character are not enough to identify him.

14th century, Central Tibet, bodhisattva, brass, Densatil style, at the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The above has his left hand cupped (gesture of meditation) and does the teaching gesture with the other, holding a pearl or gem between the thumb and forefinger.



Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani – standing (5)

Labelled 12th-14th century, Western Himalayas (circa 11th century, Western Tibet or Ladakh?), Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, published on wikipedia commons.

This Guge-style sculpture with an athletic body, marked knee caps, a lobed abdomen and a cruciform navel, is very similar to a 1oth-11th century Avalokiteshvara attributed to Western Tibet or Ladakh by the Musée Guimet in Paris and published in a previous post (see below). Vajrapani holds an upright vajra in his right hand and may have had a bell in the other. He is adorned with a long foliate garland, beaded jewellery, sacred thread and matching belt, large floral earrings and a sash worn tightly across the chest. Long strands of hair dyed with blue pigment fall over his shoulders. His transparent dhoti, shorter on one side and with an incised hem, forms a sharp point at the front that almost reaches the pedestal. The eyes are inlaid with silver in the Kashmiri fashion.

10th-11th century, Western Tibet or ancient Tibetan kingdom of Ladakh, Avalokiteshvara, brass with silver inlay, at Musée Guimet (Paris)

Tibet, Manjushri triads

12th century, (West?) Tibet, Tibetan brass tradition, Vajrasattva, Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the potala, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This group of  deities on lotuses is supported by four yakshas accompanied by a snow lion. Instead of being pot-bellied, naked and crouching the yakshas are depicted like atlantes and wear short dhotis. (For more information on yakshas see an article on the Ashmolean Museum website at http://jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/object/EA1995.95).

Manjushri, at the centre, brandishes his sword to cut through ignorance and holds the stem of an open lotus with a manuscript balancing on it.

To his left, Avalokiteshvara does the gesture of supreme generosity with his right hand and holds the stem of a similar eight-petal lotus, the skin of an antelope covers his left shoulder.

Vajrasattva holds a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) and a bell (ghanta) together with the stem of a blue lotus.

12th century, Western Tibet, Vajrapani, Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

A similar triad, with the base missing. Manjushri’s book is supported by a blue lotus, Avalokiteshvara holds the neck of a ritual water pot in his right hand. Vajrapani’s main attribute is missing from his right hand.

On both sets, the blade of Manjushri’s sword is decorated with a geometrical pattern typical of sculptures produced in the Ngari area of Western Tibet around the 12th century.

11th-12th century, Tibet, Manjushri, Vajrasattva, Avalokiteshvara, brass, Tibetan brass tradition, is or was at the Lima Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Here Vajrasattva  stands at the centre and Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara are depicted as attendants (smaller size).

NB: when standing, Vajrasattva and Vajrapani may have the same appearance and it is often impossible to know which is which unless an inscription on the base of the sculpture identifies the figure.

Tibet, standing Maitreya (5)

Circa 11th century, Western Tibet, Maitreya, (labelled Manjushri), copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Maitreya is identified by the stupa in his headdress and the water pot in his left hand. He stands on a Kashmiri-style base, complete with its flaming mandorla, but several characteristics proper to Western Tibet, such as the stippled lotus motif on his dhoti, worn much longer on one side, the thick floral garland that reaches his ankles and the style of his jewellery, indicate that the piece was not made by a Kashmiri artist, who would have given him a cruciform navel instead of punched hole.

18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, polychrome wood, modern base, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – standing (12)

Circa 13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Cornette de St Cyr.

Avalokiteshvara, in his padmapani form, holds the stem of a lotus in his left hand and  has an antelope skin over his left shoulder,  knotted across his chest. Instead of doing a symbolic gesture with his right hand as is customary he holds a water pot. This feature is borrowed from Gandharan art, where Maitreya (and sometimes Avalokiteshvara) is often seen holding a water pot by the neck with his left hand.

13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise added later, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

A Pala-style padmapani image with the right hand displaying an embossed lotus within an incised diamond.

The artist has given him the pointed nose and stern gaze typical of Pala art, and a squarish face proper to Tibetan works. We may deduce that this sculpture was made by an Indian artists for a Tibetan patron.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara (labelled Manjushri), brass, is or was at the Lima Lakhang in Lhasa (Tibet), published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This padpamani wears a three-tiered garment inlaid with copper and silver roundels. There is an antelope skin over his left shoulders, with the legs knotted on the other side rather than at the front. The face is painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair is dyed with lapis lazuli powder.

17th-18th c., Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Arthur Millner.


Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara

18th century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Avalokiteshvara, in his 11-head and 8-arm form, stands on a small lotus with large overlapping petals, holding the usual attributes (rosary, lotus, bow, wheel of dharma, water pot), his main hands held together at heart level, the lower right hand displaying the gesture of supreme generosity.

18th century, Mongolia, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

There are various forms of Avalokiteshvara with one head and four hands, usually seated. The most common one, particularly popular in Tibet and Mongolia, is Shadakshari Lokeshvara. The main hands do the gesture of salutation/reverence, the other two hold a rosary and a lotus. This richly gilt masterpiece follows the style of Zanabazar.

He is adorned with beaded accessories and has the head of Amitabha on top of his own.

18th century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, wood with gold lacquer, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The same form of the deity, with an ample dhoti and a celestial scarf that forms loops around the elbows in the Chinese fashion.

Song Dynasty, Avalokiteshvara, copper with cold gold and pigments, at the Yonghe palace in Beijing, photo by Kenneth Chu.

Although this piece is labelled Song Dynasty, i.e. China, 960-1279 (but could be far more recent), it is reproduced here due to its striking similarity with a sculpture attributed to Mongolia and published in a previous post with the following comments: ‘The style recalls some 11th-12th century Tibetan brass statues with an equally tall chignon, rigid pose, flat billowing scarf, on a similar type of lotus base. Although labelled 14th century, it may be a more recent imitation.”

Some time after this was posted, the museum website labelled the item ’19th century’.

14th [19th] century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with cold gold on face, at the Zanabazar Museum in Ulan Bator (Mongolia).




Kashmir, two rare sculptures (2)

10th–11th century, Kashmir, Vighnantaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Depicted as an attendant in early Indian art, Vighnantaka would typically have 1 head with three eyes, 2, or 4 hands, 2 legs treading on the elephant-headed Ganapati. The above is portrayed as a main deity, seated on Ganapati, himself on the back of a prostrated snow lion, all three on a lotus base with a kneeling figure on each side, over a stepped plinth decorated with vases and lotuses.

He has eight hands in which he holds various attributes including an axe and a bell, a sword and a lasso, a vajra and a staff made with a limb.


There is an effigy of an emaciated buddha at the top of the halo.

11th century, Kashmir, unknown deity, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This unidentified deity holds a vajra-tipped sword and a shield, an attribute normally associated with Kalachakra. The column to his left and the wrenched base indicate that this was part of a larger composition and that this is an attendant to a main deity. Bonhams suggest that this may be Vighnantaka due to a ressemblance with a sculpture at the Potala, A third eye and the presence of Ganapati would have helped confirm this. Vighnantaka’s usual attributes are a vajra and a lasso.